With so many famous chefs claiming fame around the UK right now and adding their names to top restaurants, it’s not always easy to decide on whether that name will always guarantee a memorable meal. Gordon Ramsay at the top end for example always impresses (even though he isn’t cooking), but at entry-level it’s never consistent. However one chef I’ve come to respect recently is Michael Caines. Again he’s not always cooking in the restaurants, but he has a smaller empire, visits each regularly and employs some truly terrific chefs.
A rather long four-hour drive later from London we arrived in North Devon. Staying at the gorgeous Kentisbury Grange we of course couldn’t resist a dinner experience at The Coach House by Michael Caines, housed in a 17th century former coaching house. Simple, modern and very cosy furnishing make for the perfect setting.
We actually started our dining experience in the garden over a cocktail. A delicious smoked apricot old-fashioned. Perfectly crafted and the balance of flavour and alcohol was just right. Pricing was on point too, however the quantity in the glass could have offered a little more.
The home-made bread here at The Coach House is absolutely stunning and shouldn’t be ignored. While I usually try to take one bite and ignore the rest to make room for my meal, we devoured these within seconds – especially with a spreading of the salted butter.
One thing I loved about the food and menu here is that it was so consistent in terms of flavour and cooking. Very rarely was anything ever overcooked and nothing ever lacked in flavour. First to be divulged was this vibrant langoustine cannelloni with sauce vierge and tapenade. An outstanding dish from all counts. Just as good was the pan-fried duck liver with mango, honeycomb and pain d’épices. So many textures, lots of sweetness and offering so much satisfaction. We have head chef James Mason to thank for this.
Dining from the tasting menu, portion sizes are very generous indeed. A six course menu full of excitement, but portions which will leave you crawling out from utter fullness. Pan fried turbot with asparagus, crab and seasonal morels was a lovely dish and it was great to see the morels on the menu for the start of the season. The fish itself could have been cooked slightly less, but flavour wise I had no complaints. Better was the rose veal sirloin with a herb purée, roasted garlic and a sherry foam. Cooked with precision and every flavour on the plate complimented one another. I think this was my star dish from the entire meal and could happily eat it all over again.
Transitioning into desserts, the first to arrive to the table was a rather peculiar one which I honestly wasn’t quite looking forward too, though it turned out to be a revelation. Textures of apple, from jelly to granita with a spoonful of granola for added crunch and some cumin yoghurt. Our other dessert was a heavenly peanut butter parfait with caramelised banana, chocolate sauce and lime sorbet. It was absolutely delicious – though our stomachs were lacking in space by this point!
We had such a lovely meal at The Coach House by Michael Caines and it really did cement my faith in Michael Caines as a brand. The restaurant is also located in some of Devon’s most beautiful scenery, complete with stunning backdrops and plentiful outdoor seating for the Summer months. It’s not a matter of would we come back – but instead when!
NB: I was invited and elements of my meal were complimentary. All views are as always, my own. My views are not influenced by anyone other than my own palate and slightly poor eyesight